Today I finish my two year secondment to the Uniting Church's National Assembly as Christian Education Research Fellow and email off my 18,000 summary report. I still have a bit more work to do on the full report (about 40,000 words) which will be tabled when I present the Report to the Assembly Standing Committee in 2.5 weeks time. Tomorrow I start 3 months' long service leave.
The research project was designed with three strands
a. an analysis of current trends and emphases in Christian education theory
b. an analysis of Christian education priorities and needs in Uniting Church congregations
c. an exploration of the role of the Assembly in Christian education
The Project drew together qualitative data from a number of sources.
i. A review of current literature in Christian Education
ii. Correspondence with several scholars in Christian Education
iii. Analysis of Census, NCLS and other writings about the Australian context
iv. Interviews with 26 leaders from 22 congregations across Australia
v. A survey of Assembly staff, agencies and committees
vi. Consultations with synod, presbytery and other people – 88 participants
To cut to the chase, here's the most succinct summary I can give you...
Based on the research, I propose the following major themes for an Assembly vision of Christian education:
- congregations as lifelong learning communities of discipleship for the sake of the mission of God;
- church leaders who are effective educational leaders, capable of guiding a community in forming disciples;
- congregations developing a culture of learning for and from engagement in mission: mission-shaping discipleship
Of course there's a whole lot more to it than that, and even that requires some unpacking, but you'll just have to wait a couple of weeks. Let's see what they do with the recommendations!
I've thoroughly enjoyed working for the Assembly - doing the research, meeting people across the country, participating alongside the other Assembly staff in meetings and conversations. I'll genuinely miss it, and that's a good thing. It's been wonderful to get to know a bunch of people better and to meet a host of other church workers and leaders, colleagues who are passionate about education and formation.
So here's a thank you to those who've shared the journey, particularly the Assembly staff, my 'line manager' Glenda Blakefield, and the Project Steering Committee - Rick Morell, Duncan MacLeod, Deidre Palmer and Andrew Dutney.